12 Missing After Marine Helicopters Collide Near Hawaii

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Search-and-rescue operations are under way off the coast of Hawaii after two Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters on a nighttime training mission collided, with six people aboard each aircraft.

“Rescuers spotted a fire and debris field, including an empty life raft. There was no immediate word on what caused the collision of the two heavy-lift transport helicopters,” reports USA Today.

The rescuers are said to be facing 10- to 15-foot waves, with the surf expected to rise even further. Investigators spotted the debris field two and a half miles off the coast of Oahu, near the town of Haleiwa. Local media reported eyewitness hearing an explosion and seeing a flash of light from the collision.

USA Today reports the helicopters are from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The cause of the collision has not yet been determined.

NBC News quotes U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Mooers saying the Marine Corps Air Stateion in Kaneohe reported the collision and requested assistance at 11:38 PM on Thursday night.

Marine Captain Timothy Irish confirmed to the Associated Press that an active search-and-rescue operation is under way.